ROCK HILL, S.C. (TheSAC.com) – Fifty student-athletes from across the country have been selected to the "Watch List" for the 2019 Schutt Sports/NFCA Division II National Player of the Year award, including two from within the South Atlantic Conference. Carson-Newman's junior pitcher Lacie Rinus and Coker's senior first baseman Maria Williamson made the cut as returning NFCA All-Americans.
In all, the group consists of 19 seniors, 21 juniors, and 10 sophomores, representing 44 programs from 21 differencet conferences. Freshmen are not eligible for the "Watch List", but can be considered for the Player of the Year award once they have competed at the collegiate level. It is selected and voted on by members of the NFCA's Division All-America Committee, consisting of one member coach from each of the NCAA's eight regions.
Rinus, the SAC Player of the Year, helped lead the Eagles to back-to-back conference tournament championships behind two SAC Championship MVP honors. In 2018, she was formidable both at the plate and in the circle. She finished the year second in the league in batting average at .435. She had 70 hits, 19 doubles, three triples and a pair of home runs. Rinus got on base 52 percent of the time and slugged .656. She led the conference in hits and doubles, was fourth in triples and fourth in the league with 99 total bases. Her 19 doubles were top-five in the country and were one away from the single-season school record in Carson-Newman history. Rinus had 19 multi-hit efforts and seven multi-RBI days. She collected her first career four-hit day against Lenoir-Rhyne in the Eagles' home finale.
In the circle, Rinus led the league in starts (36), complete games (25), shutouts (11), innings pitched (232.2), and strikeouts (223). She had the fifth-best batting average against in the league at .221 and the fifth-best ERA in the conference at 2.12.
Williamson led the Cobras in batting average (.454), slugging percentage (.687), hits (74), home runs (10), RBI (52), and walks (28). Her batting average, on-base percentage, and hits were the top marks in the SAC. The first baseman racked up accolades throughout the year, earning first-team All-SAC honors, being named to the SAC All-Tournament Team, and NFCA Division II All-Southeast Region First-Team honors, along with All-America status. In addition, Williamson collected a SAC Player of the Week honor.
Through her junior season, she ranks highly in many categories in the Coker records. Williamson is tied for fourth in home runs, fifth in runners batted in, and sixth in hits. For the 2018 season alone, she sits third in walks, eighth in hits, and ninth in RBI in Coker single-season records.
The Top-25 finalists for the 2019 Schutt Sports/NFCA Division II National Player of the Year award will be announced on April 25. A student-athlete does not have to be on the watch list to be considered for the Top-25. The top-10 finalists will be announced on May 14 and the winner will be recognized on May 30 following the conclusion of the 2019 season.
Behind the collaboration between the NFCA and the NCAA Division II Head Coaches Committee, and the generosity of Schutt Sports, the award was created in 2015 to honor the outstanding athletic achievement among softball student-athletes throughout Division II.
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